Answer: We now call neutrality racist. I find it problematic that with anti-racism, the opposite isn’t bigotry but, rather, White obliviousness or neutrality – which is termed racism. Obliviousness or neutrality are part of our White supremacist structure as a society, so neutrality is structurally racist. I actually fully agree. But oblivious or neutral people are not White supremacists. This is where I part ways with anti-racist dogma.
Perhaps for this reason alone, people distrust the militancy of White anti-racists – and this is to everyone’s detriment – that of conservatives and liberals alike. Anti-racism has an important message for today. But I won’t reject what I wrote several weeks ago (the blog post on White Fragility several weeks ago cited an article by a Black man who wrote that the book encourages White people to look through people of color to fellow White people). Black author, John McWhorter, would be either self-hating or an aberration when he says that he dislikes anti-racist talk if we were to analyze him through an anti-racist lens. He would not be given the dignity of his perspective. I would, as an anti-racist, classify him as a misguided or unenlightened Black man given his distaste for anti-racism. That I don’t do this means I’m not anti-racist. I actually respect the dignity and integrity of McWhorter’s perspective, while many activists would not.
It has been said that we have a racial caste system. This is a common anti-racist argument. And I actually agree with this assertion. We must make structural changes, and these changes must be long-lasting. But it is a process, and processes must be sustainable to be enduring.
It has been said that we have a racial caste system. I just want to know how we cannot be totalizing as we talk about it. Some people of color are very oppressed by such a framing of their lives, and we cannot put them into a framework that they don’t identify with. It’s like with me and my mental health condition – I’m not depressed about it, but when people look at me with pity or infantilize me because of sometimes bothersome symptoms, I feel more oppressed than words can describe. Maybe that’s what Thomas Sowell is motivated by – the ability to frame his own narrative. Should we dismantle that?
Nothing is worse than pity. And nothing more shameful for all people involved than social justice out of pity. Some of the anti-racist frameworks force White pity (and non-White, even Black pity) on people of color who want the self-determination and agency they are entitled to as human beings. Some people say that the United States is not White supremacist. Can’t they be respected for their perspective? Who are we to tell others what to think? Why are racism or lack thereof such a site of intellectual arrogance? It is an arrogance that comes from a totalizing worldview. This marks it as a religion.
Why can’t we share our thoughts and impressions with humility, and listen with gratitude to ideas that are different than our own? Why do we have to shun people who think differently, and why does it have to be all or nothing?
To say that we live in a White supremacist society and that Black people don’t have agency because they are Black, and then to fight for Black agency in the face of abstract Whiteness in order to tell Black people they don’t have agency, might itself take away a Black person’s agency that would say that they disagree with my anti-racism and don’t find the United States White supremacist.
Have we ever thought of that?
Let alone that there are people of color who aren’t Black but who still experience marginalization, who have told me that they don’t feel like they fit into race conversations in the US, even though they experience racism. What about them?